Thank you for your letter and attached petition, received 8 January 2018, regarding the future funding of the number 12 bus in Basingstoke.
The County Council does understand how supported bus services such as the 12 are valued by their users but is having to look at very extensive economies largely because of a loss of Government grant, rising demand for adult and children’s social care and increasing inflation.
The Council is restricted in the amount by which it can increase council tax but by law it has to set a balanced budget. It is looking for savings of £140 million out of a budget of around £900 million from April 2019. Much of the Council’s expenditure is fixed by long term contracts or committed to statutory obligations so this is not an easy task. Of necessity, all discretionary expenditure has had to be considered to achieve this balanced budget and this includes subsidised local bus services such as the 12.
87% of passenger journeys are provided commercially paid for by the fares collected and do not need funding from the County Council. At present, the County Council spends some £4 million on subsidised bus services and community transport. These are discretionary services and the budget for these is proposed to cease from April 2019 as part of the required £140 million savings but we are looking at alternative funding options.
Around 180 people a day catch the 12 in Black Dam and Cranbourne on a weekday and 15 on a Saturday, on average, and the annual subsidy cost to the County Council for the 12 is £47,000.
The Hampshire County Council Cabinet has instructed officers to look at alternative funding options for valued services and work is underway on this matter. The revenue budget for the coming financial year, including the bus subsidy budget, will be considered by Cabinet on 5 February before a final decision by the full County Council on 22 February 2018. Until this decision has been made, we will not be in a position to consider specific routes. In the meantime, we are continuing to explore all options for maintaining good local transport network in Hampshire.
In conclusion, the bus and community transport subsidy proposals have several stages to go through and no changes are anticipated before April 2019 which gives time for other funding options to be explored. Once a range of options has been developed, these will be the subject of detailed local consultation before any changes are made.
Thank you for the opportunity to respond.
Councillor Rob Humby
Executive Member for Environment and Transport